Zone6 Is Another Hip Hop First
The local Hip Hop scene has been making news for all the wrong reasons, from the first Hip Hop Awards, marred by bad organisation, to a festival whose US based headliner, C-Ray Walz, was a no show (botched passport and baby mama court drama).
So it was always going to be an interesting feat to check out the 'first' annual Hip Hop festival, held at Soweto's Zone Six. A glance at the lineup showed all the usual mainstream suspects, including the ghetto lyricist Prokid and Motswako's royalty, Kuli Chana. Literature sent to the press punted Zone Six as 'destined to become Soweto's next hot spot for the biggest names in entertainment, socialites and celebrities'. So off we went to Hip Hop Mecca.
The Black Chain complex, where the gig was held, is full of ambiguities. Firstly, it's located in one of the most frantic taxi ranks in Soweto, a stone's throw from Chris Hani Baragwanath Hospital, and is also home to the Universal Church. That this space has also morphed into a party haven is source of intrigue. The Zone Six party hangout is, however, not your average. It sports a pool and all the glitz that comes with the high life. Really, it looks and feels like the kind of haunt that hosts so-called sushi kings. The boys with plenty loot to spare.
The venue was, as expected, packed with a sugary crowd. Upwardly mobile types in colourful apparel, partnered with skeletal trophy suitors. The performances were spirited, with Prokid giving the best. His mic technique is to be lauded, and what made him stand out even more was his ability to feed off the energy of a hometown crowd.
Shugasmackx of the defunct Skwatta Camp also braced the stage. We were interested to see what he had up his sleeve when pitted against newcomers such as Kwesta, and he delivered as expected. The heavily endorsed AKA had his turn; his was a performance for the 'heads', full of skillful delivery - and of course a sizable following of ladies who could care less about his rapping prowess.
With recent Hip Hop woes in mind, Zone Six's shindig salvaged a bit of reputation for the genre. From an organisational point of view, it was a well oiled machine which catered to everyone, not just Hip Hop purists. The quest to become 'Soweto's next hot spot' has started well.
Where? 28, Blackchain Shopping Centre, Chris Hani Road & Patrick Street, Diepkloof, Soweto
by Kagiso Mnisi